My Experience with S.A.D.

S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is such a sad name for a sad thing, don't you think :(?! This is a really personal post about something close to my heart, but I really hope it can help at least one of you out there if you are going through the same thing.

S.A.D, also known as the 'Winter Blues' is a recognised mental health condition thought to affect over 2 million people in the UK alone, with over 12 million across Northern Europe ( The combination of shorter days during the Winter months, lack of sun on many of those days and many of us spending that time indoors leads some individuals to develop this condition. Our body clocks get all confused; we're not experiencing the regular pattern of waking up with the light peeking through the curtains, heading to work in the light, coming home in the light and going to bed after dark. Instead, with many of us having early starts to the work day, we wake up with startling alarm clocks in the dark, walk or drive into work in the dark, often not making it outside during our breaks and then leaving in the dark.

Without that light in the mornings, our body doesn't produce the necessary hormones which stimulate our energy powerhouse for the day, so we frequently feel lethargic and sluggish. Common associated feelings include: depression, withdrawal from social situations, loss of libido, loneliness, cravings for sweet foods, anxiety, and exhaustion. Not fun!

I grew up living in hot, sunny places until the age of 16 when my family returned to the UK for my parent's work. Things were never really the same for me after that. I adore sunshine, being outdoors and warm days and nights, so I really struggled getting used to English grey and drizzle. Occasionally England sees a bout of beautiful weather, but 2 weeks out of the year is simply not enough for me, unfortunately! Traditionally every Autumn is when my mood starts to shift and my energy levels drop. I lose motivation, make much less effort to see friends, have more fights with my boyfriend, eat less healthily and do less exercise. I find myself thinking more and more negative thoughts, losing faith in myself, convicing myself that I should give up on my dreams and many other really negative feelings!!

This year was a particularly difficult one for me. I finished University and moved in with my boyfriend into a shared house. We were both broke, jobless, and stressed. Added to this, England didn't really have any kind of Summer this year; the rain was almost constant and the sun far away. This resulted in having very few nice days outside. The months went on and it got darker and darker and my mood more sour by the day. I haven't been blogging as much, making the effort to keep in touch with friends that had moved away after University, getting as much exercise and making sure to eat properly. I have honestly been miserable and feeling completely lost.

Only recently did I make the decision to STOP. Like any change in life, it has to come from you. YOU have to make the initial steps to climb back up the happy ladder and get out of your rut. Start small. Focus on what makes you happy and surround yourself with those things; these for me include bright pictures and artwork and the smell of a nice comforting candle. Also buy a S.A.D lamp! I purchased mine on EBAY for about £40 and keep it on and near me as much as possible when I am at home during the day. I also swear by taking 1000 mg Vitamin C every day. Things like exercise and eating healthily can be so hard when you are in a lull, trust me I know, but once you get your energy levels slowly ascending, it wont seem as hard to make the effort. This also goes for making plans with your friends, going for days out even when the skies are grey. Trust me, you feel so much more energised and better for it afterwards.

The last important thing is to TALK ABOUT IT! Instead of projecting your miserable self onto others and having them mistakingly think you loathe them, be open and honest with them and tell them that you are feeling pretty low at the moment and want them to just be supportive for you. I cannot emphasise enough how important this is in relationships! Things like a loss in libido and rejecting your other half can really result in your partner feeling hurt and withdrawing themselves emotionally from you; I have seen it happen in so many relationships! Don't force yourself to be affectionate or intimate if you just don't feel like it, but make sure you are communicating effectively with your partner and letting them know that it is not them, just a tough time you are going through.

Below are a few things that have helped me. Please comment below if you have any tips you would like to share.

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